After four straight months of increases, the London-St. Thomas jobless rate fell in March to five per cent.
The decline, according to Statistics Canada, is not the result of job gains. 2,000 jobs were lost in March while the labour force and the number of people claiming unemployment also fell.
The participation rate also dropped sharply, sliding from 60.3 per cent in February to 59.5 per cent last month. That gives London the third worst participation rate in the country and the worst in Ontario. London’s participation rate is a full five points lower than the Ontario average.
Nationally, the unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 per cent as employment held steady in March. Stats Canada says the economy lost 7,200 jobs last month. The economy saw gains of 55,900 jobs in February and 66,800 in January.
Many economists had expected the surprise job-creation surge to lose momentum and the average prediction called for a gain of just 1,000 jobs, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters Eikon.
Employment increased in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, while it was little changed in the remaining provinces.
Ontario’s jobless rate rose slightly to 5.9 per cent, the result of more people looking for work.
On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province was up 2.4 per cent or 175,000, mostly in full-time work.